What does it mean being scared and why it's a useful feeling?

Many people associate fear with being a coward and they consider it as a feeling that belongs to the weak.

 

When I was a kid my father used to tell me: “Why are you so wimp? Find the courage to face your classmates that are making fun of you.” 


First of all it is important to clarify that being brave doesn’t mean not being scared, being brave means facing your fears and winning them. 

If you think that you don’t have fears, you’re not brave but you’re probably reckless. 


Going 100km/h in city is not being brave, it simply means being stupid and not understanding that you’re endangering other people and not just yourself. 


If someone jumps into the sea’s waves to save a child that is drowning is a brave act because despite the dangerous situation that person faces the fear and he did what he felt to do.


At the same time if there is no danger there is no reward. I’ve never heard someone receiving a medal for valor for picking up a piece of paper and throwing it into the rubbish bin, of course is the right thing to do but for sure is not an act that deserves a medal for valor.  

So if there is no fear there is no courage and if there is not a real danger for which to prove the braveness there is no reward. 

Many times the problem is that our fear is baseless and the real problem is not fear but anxiety. 


I describe anxiety as a state in which a person is living in the future, your fear is that something in the future may happen so you’re scared now.

Let’s make an example: I wake up at night because of the anxiety/fear that I get fired and I won't find another job. 

Which are the facts and which fictions: 

I wake up in the night: Real fact that you wake up at night

because of the anxiety/fear: It’s a fact, the feeling of fear it’s real and you can feel it, in that moment the level of cortisol (hormone of stress) increases, your heartbeat increases etc. 

that I get fired: It's fiction, nothing happened yet. It’s just a hypothesis, a projection. 

and I won’t find another job: It’s again fiction, a projection, a hypothesis, nothing happened. 

Now don’t start thinking: “ Oh how stupid I am to think about something that doesn’t exist.” 

Our brain has 2 tasks, first one is to keep us alive and then to expand our genetic heritage. 

Fear is the most powerful tool that our brain has to keep us alive.

Having fear is normal, being blocked or guided by fears, especially if they are baseless, is a perfect formula to live a life full of frustration and resentment.

 

Being aware of our fear, understanding the real reality and facing our personal fear by pushing ourselves to act, even if we’re scared, is the true definition of bravery. 

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